What is a Student Led Conference?
Our student led conferences are an opportunity for students to share with their parents their growth as a learner. They accept accountability and responsibility for their progress and achievement, and demonstrate a growing understanding of their development as independent learners.
It is a time for the student to share information about learning with their parents or other family members. The teacher is involved but is not necessarily sitting with the student and parents all of the time. There might be four or five groupings of parents and students discussing their work in a classroom, and the teacher acts as the facilitator and prompter where necessary.
Why have Student Led Conferences?
Ōpaheke School is focused on improving student achievement. We want to know that what we do raises achievement. Research and theory shows that developing students’ ability to talk about their learning and their progress makes a difference!
‘If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner’… ‘Not only is the student the best person to tell their parents what they have learnt, but if we believe that students build their knowledge by communicating what they know, then providing an opportunity for the students to tell their family what they know can significantly assist with that learning.’ Absolum, (2006)
We have student led conferences because we believe they help us achieve our goals:
- to help students demonstrate evidence of learning
- to teach students the process of reflection and self-evaluation
- to facilitate the development of students’ organisational and oral communication skills and to increase their self-confidence
- to encourage students, parents, and teachers to engage in open and honest dialogue
- to encourage students to accept personal responsibility for their learning
- to increase parent understanding of their child’s learning through improving attendance at and satisfaction with the reporting process.
“The process of students reflecting on their learning, through effective questioning that promotes the articulation of student thinking, is integral to classroom assessment practices that enhance student learning.” Black and Wiliam
What should you expect at Student Led Conferences?
Other student led conferences will be held at the same time in your child’s classroom. Having more than one conference occurring in the classroom allows families to spend more time on this valuable experience.
Your child will show you to their classroom and introduce you to the teacher.
Each child will have a basic agenda that they will follow.
Activities during this time include listening to your child explain what they have been learning and the progress they are making, looking at samples of learning, looking at portfolios or learning journals, doing an activity to support learning (a demonstration of the learning activities your child participates in), talking about goals and what your child, you and the teacher might do to support these goals, looking at work around the classroom.
Your child’s teacher may spend some time with you. This time will allow the teacher to expand on the information your child has shared or for you to clarify something if necessary. In most cases the students do a really good job! We believe that if we are doing a good job at making the learning visible to students then they can talk as clearly about their learning as the teachers.
Things to remember:
Your child will bring home key information related to the conferences before the due date. Some of these will be asking you for information. Please read them and return any forms. This helps us to make the conference more personalised.
The conference is run by your child. Everything they need will be in their classroom so they don’t need to bring anything except a proud smile and of course you.
Our children put lots of time and effort into preparing for their conference. It is a chance for them to shine and celebrate their progress. Our experience is that our children are very motivated and proud to share their learning journey with their family.
We know that all our parents do their very best to attend these conferences but sometimes unforeseen circumstances happen that hinder your attendance. If you are unable to attend, and you cannot arrange for another significant adult in your child’s life to come to the conference in your place please let us know. Sometimes we can help with the difficulty.
We aim to keep the discussion at student led conferences about the learning. If you would like to talk about any other concerns we ask that you make a separate appointment with the teacher for this. We want our students to feel confident about coming to the conferences and sharing information about their learning.
We may be filming some of the conferences so that teachers can use this to inform their learning so we can constantly improve what we are doing. If you prefer not to be part of this please feel welcome to ask for the conference not to be videoed. We won’t mind.
Most importantly, enjoy the opportunity to see your child in his/her key learning environment and celebrate your child’s progress to date. It helps them to feel successful and set challenging future goals for themselves.
Questions you can ask at the conference:
- What were you learning to do in this piece of work?
- What were the steps you went through to learn this
- What helped you to learn this?
- What do you need to learn next?
- What are you most proud of? Why?
- Tell me where you are in … reading/writing/numeracy
- Which area of learning do you find easiest? Why?
- Which area of learning do you find trickiest? Why?
- What could we do together to help you with this learning?